I'm Julia Peck, one of the tour guides for the Bridging Binaries LGBTQ+ tours at the Polar Museum.
You're looking at the large, speckled egg of an Adelie penguin — this egg was collected in Antarctica by Edward L. Atkinson on the Terra Nova expedition (1910-1913) for his sister.
A colleague on the same expedition was George Murray Levick.
Levick spent the expedition observing an entire breeding cycle of largest colony of Adelies — for 100 years, he was the only known person to do that.
He took extensive notes on penguin behavior, and turned them into a book called "Antarctic Penguins". BUT some of the notes he took didn't make it into the book — they were marked "not for publication". In fact, he rewrote them in Ancient Greek, so that only educated gentlemen could read them.
He concluded “there seems to be no crime too low for these penguins”.
What was in those notes?
Well, Mr. Levick had observed something he found shocking among the Adelies: while he watched a penguin couple mating, he observed one of the partners finish mating, dismount and swap with his partner. He wrote in his notes: “whereupon the nature of their (same-sex) proceeding was disclosed.” What he'd seen was two male penguins mating.
He observed same-sex mating multiple times, and eventually wrote up those scandalous notes into a paper called "The Sexual Habits of the Adelie Penguin". Again, it was hush-hush: the paper was limited to a private print run of 100 in 1915 and then evaded public reading until rediscovered in 2012 at the Natural History Museum in Tring.
Had Mr. Levick's observations been properly published, they would have been one of the earliest scientific recordings of homosexual behaviour in animals.
Levick had called the behavior criminal, a human judgment of animal behavior which surely stemmed from his judgment of human queer behavior.
But since then, homosexual behavior has been observed to be relatively commonplace among multiple species of penguins, and has been documented among polar bears and walruses, and many non-polar species too. Penguins who mate with an individual of the same sex might mate with an individual of the opposite sex the next breeding cycle, or stay with their partner for many breeding cycles. Basically, they're fluid.
Recognizing the fluid and diverse sexual behavior in animals is one way we can normalize homosexuality, bisexuality, and queerness in humans. It's not "natural" to do it just one way, it's all natural! Besides, we can't let penguins have all the fun.